Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
Just another day in the branch chief’s office.
Iris laid a pamphlet on her desk.
「All our examiners have had to attend in previous years, but from this year onwards, you’ll be the only one.」
「Directions to the annual examiners’ symposium held at the royal capital, where examiners from all over the country meet. They verify that their methods follow headquarters’ guidelines, and attend various lectures.」
I suppose it’s to set a certain benchmark for examiners, which in turn raises the bar for adventurers. There had been multiple examiners last year, Morley included, but as the only one this year, I had no choice but to go.
「It’s nothing too complicated, so just have a good time.」
Keeping her words in mind, I made some preparations and set off. Lyla seemed to have nothing better to do, so I let her tag along.
「Hm. What detailed creatures humans are.」
The black cat tucked away in my rucksack had evidently read the pamphlet.
「It’s like that because they have to make sure that the front-end examiners know exactly what they’re doing.」
Even the passing criteria had no doubt been painstakingly crafted over many days. Lyla yawned loudly.
「Well, you do you, I guess. Get it over and done with quickly, I want to eat something good before we leave.」
I had actually been there once to inform the King about the Demon King’s passing, but I left almost immediately after.
「It’s not a vacation, but we’ll see.」
The symposium would be held over two days. According to the itinerary given, there would be time to explore the streets.
「We’ll be staying at… oh, hmm. Doesn’t look like a cheap hotel to me.」
「I think our stay is sponsored by the guild.」
「I can’t wait to get there…!」, exclaimed Lyla excitedly.
Come to think of it, this might be my first ever vacation.
「I wonder what the capital of a kingdom run by humans will be like.」
「There’s nothing particularly remarkable, I’d say.」
「Fine, fine, I’ll enjoy myself then. You can focus on your work.」
Keeping my horse at a fast gallop, the high walls of the royal capital soon came into view. We crossed a drawbridge spanning the moat and showed the pamphlet to the guards.
「Looks like security’s tighter than usual, huh?」
「Ah, yes. Demons seem to be targeting Princess Almeria. In fact, they played some psychological trick on her just a while ago…」
「Demons…? A psychological trick…? Fumu. If that’s really the case, I’d be on guard too…」, said Lyla, glancing at me several times.
「Nah, nothing」, chuckled Lyla.
Still confused, I left the horse at the stable and followed the pamphlet’s directions to our lodging. After telling the innkeeper the purpose of my visit, he led us to our room. Lyla said that she wanted to go for a stroll, so I turned her back into human form.
「According to that piece of paper, you should be able to come back here by dinnertime.」
「Looks like it.」
「I’ll go find a restaurant. Look forward to it.」
With a graceful flick of her hair, Lyla left. Leaving my luggage in the room, I headed for the adventurer’s guild headquarters.
A majestic-looking wooden building appeared before me. It wasn’t my first time seeing it, but it was my first time actually going inside. Following the printed directions, I squeezed through a corridor and found my way to a large conference room.
There were already more than a hundred of what looked like guild employees, no doubt here to attend the symposium. I found a suitable seat and sat down. Displayed at the front were the lecture contents and the lecturer’s name. Today’s lecture would be on magic and adventuring experience.
「Hey, look. This ‘Samuel’, our lecturer, is said to be a disciple of Grand Wizard Gilman.」
「’Samuel’… he’s that guy, isn’t he? That guy who unified the Demon forces in the coalition army during the Demon-Human war?」
It seems like laymen knew it as the ‘Demon-Human war’. Their conversation made the memory of that event resurface.
Lecturer Samuel finally made his appearance — a balding man in his late thirties.
「Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for coming down today. I am Samuel, and I will be conducting the lecture on magic. I rarely teach guild employees, so, if you will, please give me your fullest attention. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to clarify.」
Despite having made such a grand entrance, his lecture content was merely foundational. Yet, when I looked around me, many attendees were furiously scribbling down notes.
「Hey, aren’t you writing anything down?」, asked the female employee beside me.
「I’ll remember everything, no worries.」
It didn’t feel necessary to take the trouble to study this hard. For me, at least, seeing how the employees who had no experience with magic were listening intently to the lecture and meticulously taking notes.
「Let me do a little demonstration. Watch closely.」
Samuel drew the magic circle for a fire spell, ‘Flame’, on the blackboard.
When I was learning magic from Lyla, she taught me that drawing magic circles was the foundation of everything. While human and demon magic circles differ by a fair bit, they still serve the same purpose.
Raising his hand, Samuel channeled his magicka into the circle. A ball of flame began to dance on his palm, then flickered out.
「Wow…!!!」, gasped the crowd.
Noticing something off, I raised my hand.
「Okay, you over there, go ahead.」
「If I’m not wrong, that circle has low magic conversion efficiency. Doesn’t it mean that the magic output is much lower than it should be?」
「Harrumph, amateur. This is the most proper magic circle ever designed in all of history! Low conversion efficiency? Lower magic output? Think before you speak!」
That’s the difference between human and demon magic. According to Lyla, demons frequently work towards developing new spells and methods to carry them out. On the contrary, humans tend to fall back on tried-and-tested methods, just like this Samuel fellow.
If one has no thirst for knowledge or appetite for discovery, their magic will forever be stuck in the past, becoming more obsolete by the day.
While it’s not a bad thing to seek comfort in established methods, it’s also not a valid reason not to extend the frontier of knowledge.
I went up to the blackboard and re-drew the magic circle.
「Hey, what do you think you’re doing?」
「How about this?」
「…That guy’s magic circle is much simpler, isn’t it?」, said one onlooker.
「I think it’s easier to remember」, agreed another.
Samuel cackled. Unfazed by his mocking laughter, I explained what I had just done.
「To put it simply, magic circles are systems. Channeled magicka follows a predetermined path into the formation, which takes more time the longer the path is. To have a long, winding path, or to create the shortest path possible, that is the question.」
The employees listened to my explanation silently.
「Thank you for your wonderful explanation. It is indeed a magic circle designed to cast ‘Flame’, but it’s meaningless if you don’t activate it.」
Lyla once advised me not to memorise the circles themselves, but to understand the underlying concepts — to see the trees, not only the forest. That way, original magic can be crafted from axioms known for millennia.
A surprisingly good teacher, the Demon King is.
「I’ll activate it the way the Demon King does.」
In other words, this is magic that no human has ever conceived of. Placing my palm on the magic circle, I channeled my own magicka into it.
A small flame materialised.
「Ahahaha! You call this magic? You can’t even roast a pig with th –」
The next moment, a fireball shot out from the magic circle.
「Ugyaaa –!?」, screamed Samuel, rooted in place.
Although the fire extinguished itself in an instant, the employees were taken aback.
「W-What was that!?」
「So… that’s ‘Flame’…?」
「That power was not that of a normal ‘Flame’… trust me, I used be an adventurer!」
「All he did was change the circle a little…」
I looked down at the petrified lecturer, whose eyes were bulging out of his skull.
「W-Who are you…?」
「Who are you?」
「What do you mean…?」
「I know Gilman well. He does not take disciples.」
「Makes your job easier if you claim to be his disciple, right, mage?」
Making a pathetic whimper, Samuel averted his gaze.